The main objective of this work package (WP) is to provide comprehensive, year-round observations (ocean, ice, and atmosphere) of the Arctic marine environment, as well as extend the existing datasets in key areas of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, that together become an observational benchmark dataset to help reduce observational and modelling uncertainties in this region.

This observational programme has been developed through consultation between the observational and modelling communities. From these discussions a key set of observational measurements in the ocean, sea ice, and in the atmosphere has been selected based on their importance in Arctic change, either through a primary role or via a complex feedback mechanism.

The large number of autonomous polar platforms deployed within ICE-ARC will continuously monitor these key parameters in
a cost-effective manner. Analysis of the resultant data will improve our observational capabilities and reduce uncertainties linked with these observations.

From this information we will provide a better understanding of the current status of the Arctic marine environment, as well as highlight changes that have occurred throughout the lifetime of the project. This will produce an improved vision of the interlinked nature of the processes and feedbacks that amplify Arctic marine change.

Succinctly, the objectives of WP1 are:

  • Gather observations of MY/FY ice over one season (melt/freeze);
  • Provide appropriate data sets for validation and development of model parametrisations;
  • Test quantitative and novel methods for monitoring sea thickness and ridge distribution changes in time and space (autonomous platforms, airborne, and satellite methods).

Several parametrisations of sub-grid-scale processes currently used in Earth System Models such as vertical diffusivity in ocean model Kz are very crude and not based on physical principles. This makes them prone to incorrectly represent the underlying processes once the basic state of the system changes sufficiently from a previous standard. One of the best ways to reduce the uncertainties is to ensure that the parametrisations used are accurate under a wide range of scenarios and forcing regimes defining potential emission and atmospheric changes.

Year-round, continuous, long-term, multidisciplinary observations are key to providing a benchmark dataset that can be used to improve and validate both the parametrisations used with models and the output of models themselves. As a result, any assessment must include a range of scenarios that are possible within an annual cycle. We will achieve this through comprehensive set of simultaneous observations of the annual cycle of simultaneous atmosphere, sea ice, and oceanic observations.

These focused observations will be performed by a range of cutting-edge, autonomous polar platforms that will be deployed at different locations and on different sea ice types. Observational measurements will be linked to a coordinated effort with extensive satellite, airborne, and cruise data of ocean, sea ice, and coastal zones. Observational results will provide data that will be used to verify key physical and bio-geochemical processes represented in models (WP2).